Air Pollution and Ear Infections

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Cleaner air may be resulting in a lower number of ear infections in children. Dr. Edward Hill discusses a study that looked at the link between air pollution and ear infections in todays 60 Second Housecall.

Dr. Hill:

Cleaner air resulting from federal pollution laws may have significantly reduced the prevalence of ear infections in children.

A study by Harvard Medical School researchers analyzed data on more than 125,000 children over a 10-year period, looking at how many instances of ear infections occurred in a one-year period. They also used air quality data from the Environmental Protection Agency for the same period, focusing on air pollutants.

Frequent otitis media, defined as three or more ear infections in a 12-month period, decreased as air quality improved. The researchers also looked for an association between air quality and respiratory allergy, but found none.

Revisions in the Clean Air Act of 1990 gave the EPA more authority to implement and enforce regulations aimed at cleaning the air and led to improvements in health quality measures such as otitis media, which is one of the most common illnesses among children.

Continuing efforts to clean up the air will decrease ear infection rates further, the researchers predict.

For North Mississippi Medical Center, Im Dr. Edward Hill.